“ Over a hundred of species in the rosa family. „
"Heady with the scent of Love,
Dancing in every glowing shade,
I sing of every grace found above.
Though I wither, True Beauty will never fade.
I will cool your fevered soul,
soothe a sore throat,
help fill your bowl,
lift your spirits and open your heart.
Gentle as a twilight breeze...
yet beware my thorny dart!"
"Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile." ~ Franklin P. Jones
"Everything is created from moment to moment, always new. Like fireworks, this universe is a celebration and you are the spectator contemplating the eternal Fourth of July of your absolute splendor." ~ Francis Lucille
"The power of love to change bodies is legendary, built into folklore, common sense, and everyday experience. Love moves the flesh, it pushes matter around.... Throughout history, "tender loving care" has uniformly been recognized as a valuable element in healing." ~ Larry Dossey
"There is nothing boring about a classic." ~ Lewis Farrell, "Bed of Roses"
I believe it may very well be universal knowledge that sending or receiving red roses is a declaration of love. Roses have much more to say to us than just this single declaration, powerful as it is, and it is a shame that more people don't make the effort to become fluent with the language of Roses. Within the Language of Flowers lies the Language of Roses, a dialect all their own, rife with meanings. What one conveys with this magical flower depends on the color, arrangement, number, or condition of the roses; sending a single bud, full bloom or dead rose changes the message significantly!
A bouquet of mixed roses, for example, would express to the receiver that "you mean everything to me". Red roses represent love and passion; a bud for passions and love just beginning or a full bloom for the variety that is "Love above all. No... not the artful postures of love, not playful and poetical games of love for the amusement of an evening, but love that... over-throws life! Unbiddable, ungovernable - like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture!" (Shakespeare in Love). Two roses entwined together represent an engagement or union.
White roses represent purity, blessings, divinity, loyalty or innocence. Mixed white and red represents unity. Yellow roses can represent jealousy, but more commonly represents joy and friendship. Yellow roses tipped with red can represent friendship blossoming into love. Red and Yellow roses mixed in a bouquet are an invitation to join the fun, or simply happiness. Orange or Coral roses represent desire and fascination. Light pink roses are to express sympathy or fondness, but dark pink roses are sent to express gratitude or appreciation.
"There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved." ~ George Sand
"You know you are in love when you see the world in her eyes, and her eyes everywhere in the world." ~ David Levesque
"Love is a stranger in an open car, to tempt you in and drive you far away... Love, love, love is a dangerous drug...you have to receive it and you still can't get enough of the stuff!" ~ Annie Lennox
Lavender or Sterling roses, my particular favorites, come in their own varying shades of delicate color. Those that are more purple in hue would be used to express love at first sight, fairy magic, or being enchanted by whomever inspired you to send it, while those more blue in shade would express fantasy, the spirit world, or the unattainable. Silvery Sterling roses, silver being the traditional color of the soul or spiritual matters, would lend themselves well to expressions of soulful intent.
Continuing through the uses of color, rare chartreuse roses would celebrate coming into a fortune or healing. You could easily have roses dyed, but natural is usually best in my opinion. While there are no true black roses, they can be dyed, and you can even find places where you can send a bouquet of dead roses! Black is the traditional color of wisdom, but sending black or dead roses would typically represent death or ill intent. This device has been used in film to threaten someone, usually by a crazed stalker.
However, sending dead roses takes on its own meaning to those who consider themselves a part of the Goth subculture, and would certainly be viewed much more favorably! A dozen dead red roses sent in this expression might more truly mean "my love is eternal, my desire for your beauty will never fade", a Romeo and Juliet bouquet if you will. To the knowledgeable, you might even send dead roses to help someone celebrate the death of a bad situation! Yes, Mixing of colors and kinds changes everything...
"Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner." ~ Amy Bloom
"Spouse: someone who'll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn't have had if you'd stayed single." ~ Unknown
"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." ~ Mignon McLaughlin
The Rose has been intimately connected with Love and matters of the heart for centuries. For this reason, it most often appears at weddings, engagements, bridal showers, valentine's day and anniversaries. The 1996 film "Bed of Roses" wonderfully captures the overwhelming power of love that sparks instantly, its healing ways on body and soul, and the divine balm that Love and Roses bring when Love moves from the fantastical to the inner chambers of the soul. In this film, Alice is a very isolated woman; abandoned as a child by her own mother and then again when her adopted mother dies, unloved by the grief-stricken adoptive father, and near friendless as an adult, Alice structures her life to remain untouched by the thorns that Love so often bears.
Lewis has had an abundance of love in his life, but the loss of his childhood sweetheart and their baby early in their marriage has left him isolated in his own little world too. Until, one night he looks up and sees Alice in her window stricken by grief. Their story of overcoming the fear of Love to be healed by this powerful emotion and find contentment is not an easy one, which is perhaps why I adore it so. It perfectly captures the magic of "love at first sight" and the many wounds and sacrifices that come with a true marriage.
Love is a terrible vulnerability and no one can hurt you like those you love. It requires great trust, faith, confidence, and courage to truly love someone, whether that someone is yourself, your family, your friends, or simply the world in general. Alice is a woman so wounded that it is questionable whether she has these vital qualities needed to keep the love that found her.
True Love, however it may arrive in your life, is rare perhaps only because it requires such a perfection of honesty, generosity, integrity, peace, wisdom, and harmony to fully blossom. True Love is an ever-unfolding kaleidoscope between two people. It gives as much as it requires. Universal Love is perhaps the only thing more rare than the True Love found between two people simply because it transcends the relationship between two individuals and applies all the same qualities to every member of Humanity and the World that contains us.
There are many moments of selfless beauty and quiet enchantment perfectly expressed through the shifting colors of the magical Sterling Rose that were marvelously captured by the "Bed of Roses" film. Lewis sorting through every scintillating lavender rose in the city as he lovingly crafts endless bouquets of perfection for the new love that could resurrect him from the ashes of his own despair is an awe-inspiring sight. Alice's stunned and fearful confusion as she sits in a room without space for one more bloom, while comical, is also a chilling thought when you realize that this would most likely be everyone first reaction to so much love being directed at us so earnestly.
Through the film, Alice learns that it is not Love she truly fears though... it is herself. Alice fears her ability to return love equally as much as she fears opening herself to the possible miracle and inevitable pain of love. She doubts her worthiness of such perfection as much as she doubts the perfection itself.
When speaking of sterling roses, a thorn-less rose, Alice says that she almost prefers the roses with thorns as they are too perfect to be real without them. A poetic reminder of this "forge-tested" woman's familiarity with pain. Lewis and his roses open the door for the deep healing that the soul-wounded Alice needs, which gains her the wisdom of the Sterling Rose... Love without thorns is magical perfection. In the end, this gives her the courage to face her worst fears and embrace love honestly.
We all carry burdens. We all go through trials and varying degrees of pain. The thorn-less rose reminds us that when we are at the end of our rope, emotionally exhausted, and beyond all hope... love still embraces us in its gentle perfection, waiting to be remembered as one of the many natural and healing gifts of Life. All that you know could crumble around you, but if your heart still brims with love for Self and World you would never feel poor, isolated or bereft. Love is not something that begins or ends with any individual, it simply is, like any other element or energy in Life. When we open ourselves to this reality, the miraculous becomes an every day occurrence, and anything is possible.
"Every now and then everybody is entitled to too much perfection." ~ Lewis Farrell, "Bed of Roses"
"I live on a little planet called reality, where things like that don't happen." ~ Alice Walker, "Bed of Roses"
"Infatuation is when you think he's as sexy as Robert Redford, as smart as Henry Kissinger, as noble as Ralph Nader, as funny as Woody Allen, and as athletic as Jimmy Conners. Love is when you realize that he's as sexy as Woody Allen, as smart as Jimmy Connors, as funny as Ralph Nader, as athletic as Henry Kissinger and nothing like Robert Redford - but you'll take him anyway." ~Judith Viorst, Redbook, 1975
"If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?" ~ Unknown
Now, because it is so commonly paired with Love, the rose in her many splendors is also strongly associated with romance, sex and fertility. These were all once considered aspects of Love equally desirable in any marriage. The first appearance of rosewater was between 1582 and 1612 as the oil or "otto' of roses in Persia used at wedding feasts for the Grand Moguls. It is said that at the wedding of a certain princess and an emperor, a canal was dug that encircled an entire garden.
This canal was then filled with water and fragrant rose petals for the bridal couple who discovered that the heat of the sun separated the rose's essential oil onto the surface of the water. This oil was then skimmed off and prized ever after as a heavenly perfume which is used to this day for inspiring all that the Rose symbolizes... love, romance, fertility, desire, celebration, ceremony, etc etc.
A lover's trail of petals from door to bed is another frequently employed symbol that re-enforces this flowers devotion to Aphrodite, Eros, Bacchus and similar sensual deities. Roses, like their cousin the Apple, are also associated with the goddesses Brighid and Freya. Singer Meatloaf once asked, "Would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?" The parallel between this potentially consuming passion, and the symbols of both red roses and Wolf is perfectly apt, although another common Creature Teacher to see within the Rose is Deer Spirit. The Rose's connection to Canine energy is perhaps more easily seen through the inadvertently named Dog or Dag rose, another favorite of mine.
"I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: no good in a bed, but fine up against a wall." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
"Sex on television can't hurt you... unless you fall off." ~ Unknown
"Remember, if you smoke after sex... you're doing it too fast." ~ Woody Allen
"The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease." ~ Voltaire
"A fever is an expression of inner rage." ~ Julia Roberts
It is believed that the Dog Rose came from a corruption of its original name, the Dag Rose. Dag is an archaic word for dagger, a reference to the roses many sharp thorns which were braved to gather either its beautiful flowers, or more importantly, it's fruit. The Rose Hip, fruit of the rose, is useful for many things. Rosehips are tasty cooked into many dishes, and excellent in teas for their antioxidant qualities and concentration of vitamin c. Roses are closely related to the Apple and can be used anywhere you would use a tart fruit. The old "apple a day" maximum is equally true of rosehips, and typically the most productive roses for the best rosehips are of the bush variety like Dog rose, or rosa rugosa.
The roses used in medicine are typically any of the scented roses that bear a deep red or rose tint. After the second blooming in the fall, bulbs form on the stems of the rose just below where each flower bloomed. These swellings will round out and gradually turn an orangey-red, when they are considered ripe and can be harvested.
When you harvest rosehips, you cut off the tops and bottoms, slice in half, deseed, and then rinse the hips in preparation for storage. You can preserve hips in a variety of ways. One of the simplest is to store them in an airtight container in the freezer until needed, and I can tell you that if you have stored them properly they retain all their medicinal benefits as well as their sweet-tart taste. Ask me for my Earthy Goodness Casserole recipe sometime!
Over the years, roses and their fruit have been used to create syrup, perfume, oil, confectionary, cordial, conserve (jam/jelly), all sorts of cooked dishes, ungents/lotion, gargles, bandages, poultice, eyewash, candles, baths/potpurri, and liquers. These have been used medicinally for: fevers, jaundice, jointaches, headaches, fainting, dry skin, cuts and sores, weakness and trembling of the heart, weak stomach, to promote good digestion, to cool an over-heated liver, hot inflammations or swellings, sore throats, to cool tempers, qwell nervousness, restlessness, insomnia and all nervous complaints, as well as being a comfort and strength to the heart and spirit. Rosehips and even untreated rose petals make a deliscious and healthy treat that should be part of everyone's diet!
"The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they'll ease
Your will they'll mend
And charge you not a shilling." ~ Nursery rhyme quoted by Wayne Fields
"A bowl of warmth, a soft face, a new day. Some get-well thoughts sent your way. Feel better soon!" ~ Author Unknown but I'm sure someone can use the comforting sentiment!
"I dream of the winter in my heart turning to spring
While the ice gives way under my feet
And so I drown with the sun
I've been burning in water and drowning in flame
To prove you wrong and scare you away
I admit my defeat and want back home
In your heart under the rose..."
~HIM, "Under the Rose"
For all it's healthful benefits and uplifting nature though, Roses are also closely associated with Death. Roses are a favored flower for gravesites and funerals. Perhaps this is an unconscious reminder to ourselves that we should not only enjoy Life, but remember too that Death is but a natural part of the living experience. It is this close association with both the Creative and the Destructive forces, the Rose's ability to unflinchingly permeate both states with its powerful Love... that makes it such a favorite of Goths, in my opinion.
Like Lillies, Roses are beloved not for the mere frequency with which they appear at funerals and graveyards! This amazing flower is not just the herald of Love or Death, it can symbolize magic, divinity, perfection, healing, hope, secrets and a host of other things. Beloved of Isis and the Mother of Christ, this flower is rife with dichotomy: life and death, magic and practicality, spirituality and sexuality, gentleness and pain, airy and earthy by turns.
A rose was sometimes worn behind the ear by servants, tavern workers, or others in 16th century England to indicate that the wearer heard all and told nothing. In Germany, roses displayed at a table suggested that diners could speak freely without fear that their secrets would travel beyond the room. The expression sub rosa, "under the rose," is believed to originate from the custom of carving a rose over the door of the confessional in Catholic churches. It remains a favorite symbol of all secret societies, although when the rose was first connected with secrecy remains a mystery.
It is easier for me to see immediate connections to the Canine Creature Teachers. Perhaps the first quality one associates with Dogs is loyalty, an important aspect to devotees of the Rose. Wolves too are noted for their passion, their overwhelmingly sensitive and sensual natures. Foxes are magic and mystery given four feet and fur, and wild dogs of all sorts are associated with death, communication, and transformation.
There is a certain amount of surrender and sacrifice, a familiarity with the gritty and painful side of living that comes with the Rose that is also familiar to those called by these Creature Teachers. Perhaps the name Dog Rose isn't so inadvertent after all, although the many virtues of this classic flower appear to be largely well kept secrets. The balance between Canine and Deer Teachers should be examined by those called by the Rose.
"Beth could not reason upon or explain the faith that gave her courage and patience to give up life, and cheerfully wait for death. Like a confiding child, she asked no questions, but left everything to God and nature, Father and Mother of us all, feeling sure that they, and they only, could teach and strengthen heart and spirit for this life and the life to come." ~ Louisa May Alcott, "Little Women"
"There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run, the sword will always be conquered by the spirit." ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Roses were favored decorations during the Roman eras. They were strewn across floors and tables, filled goblets, temples, tombs, and processions. Rose flavored wines have probably been enjoyed at ceremonies from Bacchanals to funerals for as long as people have had Rose wine! Roses have been carved into ships and cradles, and adorn many stray corners of our lives. A soothing bath, an inviting scent to a room, especially with chocolate! Explore the many myths, legends, songs and works of art that glorify this marvelous bloom. Celebrate some perfection in your life however you choose, but please consider confiding in the Rose during your celebrations. How does this Nature Teacher appear in your life?
"Celebrate what you want to see more of." ~ Thomas J. Peters
"The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate." ~ Oprah Winfrey
It isn't always easy to celebrate your life in the moment, or occasionally even to find a reason to celebrate... But, the beautiful face of the Rose in a handful of Wildflowers is my favorite bouquet any day! A fabulous reminder to both enjoy and learn from life. Being mindful of what you carry forward with you into each moment is half the battle. The Rose is Nature's many splendor-ed reminder to do so always with Love and Blessings. What are you passionate about in Life? What does this emblem of Spirit mean to you? Have a great pic of this Teacher? Share your link here! How do Roses appear in your life?
"One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history." ~ Albert Schweitzer
"To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, you haven't lived a life at all. Stay open. Lightning could strike." ~ Bill, "Meet Joe Black"
"Thank you for a day of too much perfection." ~ Lewis Farrell, "Bed of Roses"
This article is lovingly dedicated to all the good people in my life. If you have a moment, I ask that you take some time to catch up with some of those good people in your own life, who may be having a difficult time right now. Help if you can, offer a bit of sympathy if you have nothing else to give, but we are all here in Life together... I believe we should be there for each other as much as possible.